Spring is posing by the door.
Getting ready to enter the room, it's stretching a golden leg and pointing a toe, leaning with folded arms and casting an eye over the still brown landscape. It knows it can do better with just an exhalation or a wink.
Each month has a specific look and personality--it's light different from the month preceding or following. A March sky cannot be mistaken for a February or April sky. And yesterday was pure March.
In days not so long ago, March meant one thing--- it was time to buy new baseball pants, ask if last year's cleats still fit and make sure a mouse hadn't set up shop in the folding chairs neatly stored in the garage. Hometown baseball was coming!
From t-ball to high school varsity, it was a momentous period in the late winter and early spring. You could sniff it when you were outside. Soon, you'd be back on the field, sitting in a straight line of chairs, laughing with your friends.
Cooped up and busy all winter, you might make a breakfast date, convene at a holiday party or chance-meet at the supermarket. Often the conversation would turn to the shared anticipation of baseball season and the pure fun of gathering for the game.
We knew what we liked....and we liked baseball season.
Those days long gone for those of us with grown men calling us "Mom" in deep voices, spring is different.
Despite the crazy arms of blooming forsythia, the plastic Easter eggs that will soon hang from bare branches and the ultimate bloom of the azaleas and dogwoods, spring promise still holds, but it holds a little less....at least for me.
I glance at the cobwebbed folding chairs, the pile of forgotten cleats and the bats leaning in a pyramid and get a literal twinge in my chest. My mind's eye, clear and active, sees my robust 16 year old Charlie striding to the plate, mask up, squatting to catch the game. He shifts his weight to get comfortable and tosses the ball with an easy flick of the wrist.
Tom is there, too... walking to the plate with a batter's glove in his pocket and a smile on his face as a friend yells encouragement, most likely profane, from the bench.
The parents huddle together in the cold--freezing during the early season, stretching and sunning as the days grow warmer.
When one of us debuted a new chair, it was always a big event and we'd all admire the style, inquire if it was comfortable, look to see where we'd place our bottled water or tube of sunscreen. We shared food and rides and tales of our day between innings.
We groaned at certain opposing teams ("They are so unsportsmanlike!") and feared certain umps (Why does he hate us!"). When we were losing we'd sit like sphinxes or yell or curse. Winning brought giddy cheers.
Many lifelong friendships were formed on the sidelines of those games. Some of us still cling together now, aware of how lucky we were to have enjoyed such idyllic days when our biggest problem was how early to leave for an away game.
Enjoy it now if you still have it, parents.Take pictures, hang together and cheer for your children as they round the bases, kicking up clay and grinding impossible grass stains into their knees and elbows. Soon, it will be over.